raptor prey (was sea eagle observation) now Peregrine stategy

To: "Douglas Carver" <>, "Philip A. Veerman" <>, "BIRDING-AUS" <>
Subject: raptor prey (was sea eagle observation) now Peregrine stategy
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2008 08:19:05 +1000

On 6/12/08, Philip Veerman <> wrote:
> Hi Mike,
> Sorry I really disagree. I recall reading years ago that this idea "It
does this by bringing its clenched fists forward to strike the head" was a
myth. Why wouldn't it be a myth?

See below

It has talons like sharp hooks, adapted for
killing things, why would the bird use "clenched fists" and risk damaging
its own feet on impact?  The idea seems to be no more logical than being
derived from an analogy to people boxing but we don't have sharp talons and we are not aiming to slice and scratch. Surely the method used is to hit the
prey with feet fully open, thus exposing the sharp bits.

Well apparently not. The best description I can find in my library is in Ferguson-Lees & Christie's 'Raptors of the World'. That was published in 2001 so is reasonably modern. Relative to this discussion, in summary it states, 'May grasp smaller prey, but MOSTLY STRIKES WITH LOOSELY BUNCHED TOES and rakes with hind claw: may then catch dead or wounded victim as it falls or, more often, follows it down to ground.' (See p. 915).

May not seem logical but appears to be fact!

Various photos show
this. If the feet are closed ("clenched fists"), how would it grab the prey
(an alternative to the simple hit) and how would the existence of cuts be

Presumably by the hind claw.

Also I believe that "the Peregrine makes the kill by knocking
their heads off at the point of impact" is also a myth. I have never heard
of anyone observing a Peregrine stoop at prey being marked by seeing the
loose head falling down somewhere behind the scene. If this was a regular
thing, falconry text would describe it.

Well I don't think it is a myth but is undoubtedly rare.

I have seen a few Peregrine kills
(not a lot) and seen photos etc that show the head still on the prey. I have
also seen some missing the head. Much more likely that the head is bitten
off and maybe eaten first, they do bite the neck as a killing method. I
believe it is usually true that for large prey eaten on the ground the way in which it is laid out is fairly characteristic of a Peregrine Falcon meal. Not that prey remains from other predators would not sometimes look similar.
> Philip Veerman
> 24 Castley Circuit
> KAMBAH   ACT  2902
> Phone. 02 - 62314041
> (M) 0411 716177

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